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ArkOS: Building the Anti-Cloud (on a Raspberry Pi) 166

angry tapir writes "arkOS is a Linux distribution that runs on the Raspberry Pi. It's an initiative of the CitizenWeb Project, which promotes decentralization and democratization of the Internet. arkOS is aiming to aid this effort by making it super-simple for people to host their own email, blogs, storage and other services from their own home, instead of relying on cloud services run by third parties. about the project."
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ArkOS: Building the Anti-Cloud (on a Raspberry Pi)

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  • Home servers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Professr3 ( 670356 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @12:32AM (#45032975)
    I imagine Comcast will have something to say about this - something like "No more internet for you, TOS-breaker"
  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @12:44AM (#45033025)

    I'm running my own server for mail, my web site, and various other little bits.

    Not running from home: bandwidth is a primary issue, especially my uplink is too slow. My host has at least some 100 Mbit for me, maybe more - shared of course with many other sites but it's there for those bursts, so the few people daily that visit my site have a quick response.

    Other concerns are dynamic IP (will need dynDNS, not sure how well that works), uptime, power use, hardware management... I pay some USD 350 a year for my virtual server. All in. Fixed IP, fast hardware, fast bandwidth, reliable connection - more reliable than from home with our over-sensitive RCD. More than enough for a small setup, a couple dozen mails a day, a dozen or so web site visitors a day. Not going to run that from home: more work, more cost, more trouble.

    • Seconded. I've run various servers for various purposes for years at home, but for the shit that just needs to work all the time with minimal fuss, paying someone else to do it is the smarter and cheaper choice.
    • by isama ( 1537121 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @12:55AM (#45033063)
      I've got my stuff on a "kimsufi" server at OVH. i pay less than 100$ per year, I don't even remember how much :D
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:20AM (#45033159)

      I run a home-based website. Dynamic IPs aren't a problem. First, if you're always connected your IP almost never changes. Second, routers with updated firmware (like DD-WRT) can update your dnyDNS provider automatically. I use (I'm not sure if you can still sign up for their free service).

      The main problem with self-hosting will be your ISP. You may or may not have to change your website's port every once-in-a-while to get around blocking. In addition, many consumer IPs are blocked by stupid net filtering software. Other than that, it's nice having everything completely under my control. The website runs off an old laptop I wasn't using. There's no dynamic content, so CPU power isn't an issue. My server runs Hiawatha (discovered from the Puppy Linux community, thanks guys) which is easier to setup than Apache.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:08AM (#45033517)

      more reliable than from home with our over-sensitive RCD.

      RCDs are rarely over sensitive. They have a pre-defined trip point and a pre-defined trip time. Odds are far greater that you have some gear somewhere in your house that is leaking current into the earth and that you're already very close to the trip point. If you have an old fridge or oven I would look there first. Pool pumps or any other electro-magnetic devices are good culprits too.

      Nothing to do with home servers, just some advice of where you may start looking for a potential problem. If it is the RCD, get it tested and replaced.

      • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @03:25AM (#45033575)

        Most of our electronics are reasonably new. Our old washing machine used to be a real issue, we have a new one now. Fridge maybe a decade old, no more. Really I've been searching a few times really hard when the problem occurred: power would go down all of a sudden, and just wouldn't go on again. Once I had to switch off all power groups, switch them on one by one, finally find out there are two that each would trip the breaker. That's strange, you'd expect one. Anyway in the end I never found the culprit. Narrow it down to a single group: unplug everything, connect power, plug it all in one by one to see which device causes problems: and then nothing happens?!

        Most recent was a few trips due to the rice cooker not being dry enough after a thorough washing. Took two days, now it's fine again :-) But had to walk down to reset the power a few times. That makes sense.

        • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @05:37AM (#45033973)

          It may be a slight intermittent fault pushing you over the edge. If you have a friend who's an electrician or EE see if he can bring over a clampmeter and clamp around both the active and neutral cables going through your RCD. Both at the same time will give you a measure of earth leakage.

          It's common for some devices to leak. In our case we had a dodgy beer fridge leaking ~30mA and our RCD tripped at 40mA (country standard, not sure how things work were you life). Turns out there was an ants nest amidst all the wiring inside the fridge. The fault was never enough to diagnose by turning things off and on but I found it when measuring the leakage current while turning things off and on.

          Something to consider if the outages are causing any problems.

    • by aurb ( 674003 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:22AM (#45034115)
      Colocation for Raspberry Pi? I'm sure there are services like that.
    • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @02:41PM (#45038683) Homepage Journal

      I've been running a public-facing web server at home for over 10 years. I use DynDNS (I joined right after they were founded; so for a small 'donation' (as it was at the time) I got lifetime service. :D ) and I've used it with different ISPs, and static and dynamic IPs. Name-wise, everything works great.

      Bandwidth-wise, I used to have 1.5M down/256k up and it was fine. Not blazing fast or tons of capacity, but for "a couple dozen mails a day, a dozen or so web site visitors a day" even that was plenty. I used to have an image that was in the top 5 matches on for 'ac cobra wallapaper' and I sometimes got hundreds of hits a day -- no problem at all. A dozen hits per MINUTE is only one every 5 seconds so ANY web host should be able to handle that easily. I currently have a moderately-priced 18M down/1.5M up fiber-to-the-curb service. (AT&T in Florida.)

      The single biggest drawback with home hosting is the possibility of running afoul of your ISP's terms of service. Two big upsides: basically infinite storage (I can watch every single ripped movie or TV show that I own at any time, from anywhere, on any device, for free, because I have a symlink in Apache leading to my media folders) and fast transfers when you're at home to upload new content -- I can drag 2 GB of photos from my CF card right into my gallery web app and the bottleneck is the speed of my card reader.

      Uptime: I trust my computer as much as any. If it breaks, it's faster & easier to fix when it's in my closet than when it's colocated somewhere. If it's a real "cloud" place... hell, even Amazon and Microsoft's Azure have had notable outages. (And when THEY go down, you are 100% SOL until THEY fix it. Which they want to do, fast, because they have so many customers, but because they're so huge and complex, sometimes the downtime is significant, despite all their resources.)

      Power: I've got a UPS. Electricity is pretty reliable where I live. Since my home phone is now digital, my telco sent me a dedicated UPS for the router ("modem") because I'm no longer using POTS with its magical self-powering capabilities.

      The $350 you spend each year would pay for a new Linux box or used Mac mini... every single year. Since I'd pay for my Internet service no matter what, and run it off a Mac mini that's always on anyway, I basically get a hosted website* with infinite storage and "enough" bandwidth for nothing more than the cost of the domains, and electricity. (Which on a Mini is practically like a night-light.)

      * multiple domains, actually.

      • by lewiscr ( 3314 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @05:13PM (#45040027) Homepage

        Seconded. I've been doing the same, since 1999. Web spiders are responsible for most of my upstream bandwidth, and I only notice when I'm looking at the log files. None of the 4 ISPs I've had over the years have complained or blocked my service.

        The only actual problem I've had is email deliverability. Most destinations would bounce my emails because they came from a Dynamic IP. I configured Postfix to forward everything through Time Warner's mail servers, and I haven't had problems since.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:03AM (#45033093)

    We could decentralize and democratize the protocol standards as well.

  • by DrPBacon ( 3044515 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:15AM (#45033141)
    Dr P Linux will hopefully be out by the end of the year ... :)
  • by Burz ( 138833 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:23AM (#45033177) Homepage Journal

    It should come with I2P like TAILS does:

    I2P-Bote: Decentralized / anonymized email based on DHT

    Tahoe-LAFS on I2P: Decentralized and anonymous file storage

    Syndie on I2P: Decentralized and anon blog


    I2P itself: A general replacement for IP. Like a cross between Tor and bittorrent, where everyone is expected to contibute to bandwidth and so reduce the centralization (and opportunity for attacks) as much as possible and expand the approved uses to anything (instead of just web browsing).

    Take away the centralized power of the ISP and government to monitor and control every aspect of your online life.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:31AM (#45033213)

      Take away the centralized power of the ISP and government to monitor and control every aspect of your online life.

      The government and the corporations are controlling everyone! Seriously who gives a fuck, its the internet, what are you doing on it that youre so desperate to keep secret and hidden? In the end all you are battling is information freedom and that is a battle you will ultimately lose, you are communicating with the outside world and frankly if you think you can keep that private youre just a naive idiot.

  • by sortius_nod ( 1080919 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @01:52AM (#45033281) Homepage

    Until there's widespread FTTP (GPON or AON) it will be more pain than it's worth.

    I have run a Linux server for years with just these services on ADSL & ADSL2. Mail is fine, even a Jabber server is fine, even private file hosting is ok, if a bit slow, but once you start hosting websites your ability to actually use your own Internet when you're home is diminished.

    I was hoping that the National Broadband Network (NBN) would stay 93% FTTP here in Australia, but unfortunately with the change in government that's looking less & less likely.

  • by M. Fioretti ( 3230131 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @02:15AM (#45033329)
    Can't believe I only discovered this project today, when it's been running, it seems, for at least 6 months. Anyway, it seems very similar to what I just proposed, the percloud [] With the difference, if I'm not mistaken, that the percloud would be an easier to use, preconfigured, locked down version of arkOS. Am I right?
  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @05:52AM (#45034029)
    The TOS for Google Fiber says NO SERVERS... at all. Kind of lame when you consider they initially called Google Fiber an experiment to see what people would do with all that bandwidth. This sounds ideal. Google Fiber will be available to me very soon, but I may just have to pass it up. I don't like that they have already drastically changed the game by excluding servers.
  • by Hougaard ( 163563 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @06:32AM (#45034149) Homepage Journal

    Great copy paste job boys :)

  • Net neutrality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:04AM (#45034301)

    To me, it seems that providers that prohibit home servers (either by TOS or by actually blocking e.g. port 80) are in violation of FCC-10-201 (net neutrality).

    This was brought up before on Slashdot [] with specific reference to Google Fiber's TOS prohibition of incoming ports. The complaint is described in [] . I wish someone would pursue this against all major providers, not just Google Fiber.

    There is simply no valid reason to prohibit incoming ports. This issue is not bandwidth - most home servers use far less than say streaming video. In any case if it's abused, the providers can use their existing procedures to deal with bandwidth abusers.

    This is really at the heart of network neutrality. The only reason I can see for prohibiting incoming ports is to prevent individuals from competing with commercial interests that provide network services. Personally, it really PO's me that my ISP blocks ports 80 and 443. I keep my files on a home server, and although I can access them via ssh, many public wifi services (e.g. at hospitals) block every port, in and out, except 80 and 443. I can't really complain about the public wifi (well, I can complain, but they'll just tell me that it's a free courtesy they're under no obligation to provide, so if you don't like it, don't use it). So, to access my personal files, I need to use a 3rd party's commercial server (cloud or VPN) that allows port 80.

    (As for the dynamic DNS, that hasn't been a serious problem for me - my ISP keeps it fixed as long as my cable modem is powered and connected, and the IP only changes when I restart the cable modem. Anyway, that is a secondary and minor problem.)

  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @07:42AM (#45034497) Homepage Journal

    You mean I can run a server out of my home?! That's amazing!

    How is this easier than spinning up a TurnkeyLinux [] appliance on an old Pentium 4 (or better) desktop you can get for free in almost any part of the country?

    Let's see - I need to buy the RaspberryPi, a case, and a power brick at a (practical) minimum, which puts the system in the $75+ range - compared to a repurposed desktop that will cost around $0. Of course, the difference is in the monthly power bill - the old Pentium 4 desktop will use much more power. You could avoid that expense by running your appliances under, say, VirtualBox [] if you normally keep your desktop on 24x7....

    Oh yeah, the TOS of most ISPs would preclude any server type work on a residential account, at least that is the case here in the US.

  • Missing something? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @08:21AM (#45034763)

    When did people not have the opportunity to host their own content?

    For anybody that has ever hosted their own email server, Raspberry Pi is NOT the right platform to do this on. While you can easily set up an email server on any Linux distro, the reality is that you need something a little bit more powerful than Raspberry Pi to process the ten's of thousands of spam messages a minute you are going to get. And don't think that just because you are "clever" enough to set up your own email server that you will be immune to spam.

    And it seems a lot the the Slashdot denizens seem to have forgotten the bygone era of the "Slashdot Effect", when people and companies used to try and host their own websites which couldn't handle a sudden influx of people that used the RTFA. Even a lot of corporate servers couldn't handle when hundreds of thousands of people suddenly jumped onto their websites all at once back in the day. This is why many corporations and consumers just started using hosted services which have a larger, dynamically scalable infrastructure to handle sudden jumps in traffic.

    Finally, with things like Facebook and Twitter and a slew of other social networking services, these all but decimated the "personal blog". Nobody cares to go to and read some mindless ranting from a conspiracy nut. The problem with "decentralization" is that you will be lost in obscurity.

    So, aside from hosting anything more than a hobby website for friends and family to touch base with, good luck.

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @10:33AM (#45036279)

    I get that we're all busy frolicking with our Raspberry Pis, but any Linux distro on an old PC will do this. There's nothing "Pi" about this. You don't need a new distro for this either. Maybe a handful of shell scripts or some kind of GUI to manage all the bits and pieces would be nice, but this is all a solved problem.

  • by MCRocker ( 461060 ) * on Saturday October 05, 2013 @12:18AM (#45042327) Homepage

    This sounds like the same concept that the Freedom Box Foundation [] has been working on for a while. It would seem like a better use of resources for these groups to get together and pool their efforts rather than do the same thing twice.

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